The Hebrew month of Elul began on Wednesday, and this year, there will be 17 central prayer assemblies for the Israeli public to say Selichot, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation announced in a press release this week.
Selichot prayers are said nightly throughout Elul. These prayers are meant to ask for forgiveness from God and are recited in the days leading up to the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation noted that is expecting thousands of visitors to attend Selichot events at the Western Wall, also known as the Kotel, every night during the month.
“In light of the strong desire of the general public in Israel to participate in the central Selichot events, it has been decided this year to add Selichot gatherings and hold 17 central Selichot assemblies, accompanied by a cantor, amplification, and large screens at the edges of the Western Wall,” the press release stated. “This is to disperse the crowds and allow the public to ascend to Jerusalem and join in the Selichot events throughout the High Holiday season.”
In addition to hosting the events in person, the foundation will live-stream the events on its website for those who wish to participate but may be unable to personally attend.
The Selichot events will be live-streamed on the Western Wall Heritage Foundation's website for those who cannot physically attend and wish to participate in the moving ceremonies.
The first Selichot event will take place early on Saturday morning, beginning fifteen minutes after midnight.
Dates of Selichot events
The central Selichot events will occur on the following dates:
1. Motza’ei Shabbat, 2nd of Elul, August 19, 2023
2. Thursday, 7th of Elul, August 24, 2023
3. Wednesday, 13th of Elul, August 30, 2023
4. Thursday, 14th of Elul, August 31, 2023
5. Wednesday, 20th of Elul, September 6, 2023
6. Thursday, 21st of Elul, September 7, 2023
7. Motzei Shabbat, 23rd of Elul, September 9, 2023
8. Sunday, 24th of Elul, September 10, 2023
9. Monday, 25th of Elul, September 11, 2023
10. Tuesday, 26th of Elul, September 12, 2023
11. Wednesday, 27th of Elul, September 13, 2023
12. Thursday, 28th of Elul, September 14, 2023, Erev Rosh Hashanah: Hatarat Nedarim (Annulment of vows) at midnight.
13. Monday, 3rd of Tishrei, September 18, 2023, after the Fast of Gedaliah
14. Tuesday, 4th of Tishrei, September 19, 2023
15. Wednesday, 5th of Tishrei, September 20, 2023
16. Thursday, 6th of Tishrei, September 21, 2023
Finally, the ultimate Selichot Event will take place for Motza’ei Shabbat, the 8th of Tishrei, September 23, 2023. The event will mark the eve of Yom Kippur. Hatarat Nedarim, Annulment of Vows, will commence at midnight with the participation of the Chief Rabbis of Israel as well as the Rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites.
Further, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation is planning to host the annual Selichot tours in the Old City and the Western Wall Tunnels sites. The tours will occur after Selichot prayers and the traditional liturgical poems.
Additionally, the new Western Wall Tunnel tour at the Chain of Generations Center will also be open specially for the Selichot period.